Thursday, January 14, 2016

January Velo News

My first ride of the new year was on a cold January 2nd.  Temperature topped out at 39 after a morning low of 15.  The day was the third in a row of cold weather which also included freezing fog.  After a few days  everything was covered in frost.  The sun come out on the 2nd so the day was fine for riding, although cold.  I wore long johns under my tights and an extra top layer and never felt too warm .  I rode south on the Chehalis Western Trail to the Deschutes River at Waldrick Road and came back the same way.  No matter how familiar I've become with the CWT it always feels like a different experience.  On this day it was a finely-detailed winter wonderland.  The frost was thick and rendered objects precisely, a trailside bench, fencepost, bare branches and limbs, blades of grass.  Unlike snow, which blankets and covers, frost shows everything.

One spot on the CWT that always speaks to me is a little spring that feeds a small watercourse draining into one of the many wetlands that abut the trail.  On this trip it was running strongly, its waters sparkling in the low winter sunlight.  A few weeks before the water was overflowing on to the trail.  (We had a lot of rain in December.)  Prior to that the last time I'd been this far south was in the fall when the area was still experiencing drought.  The little stream was completely dry then.  In years past the water stream would diminish and maybe not be visible due to all of the greenery that thrived on its banks but it always flowed.  For the first time in my short experience, it ceased to flow entirely this year.  I am pleased to see the waters returning so vigorously.

My second ride was on a sunny Sunday.  A bit warmer and no freezing fog.  The sun was out after a few overcast days.  I rode my Evergreen State College extended route which took me south on the CWT before turning west through southeast Olympia to Tumwater and beyond.  Except for the CWT section, it's all street riding, mostly with bike lanes or shoulder.  I'm cautious about traffic--"never trust a person operating a motor vehicle," I say--but I'm not afraid to take a lane to get through a traffic circle or make a left turn.  I always get a kick when I can pull it off neatly.  This ride featured well executed moves at the Boulevard/Log Cabin traffic circle and the Custer Way 2nd Avenue intersection in Tumwater.

And it's good that I had that satisfaction because not long afterward following two hard climbs, my rear tire went flat.  I'll spare you the details beyond saying that I was ill-prepared to deal with the flat.  I never made it out to the college but I had a nice walk home on a sunny day.

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